The Christchurch Hack Circle was an amphitheatre in the central city that, for a time, was a favourite Hacky Sack venue for Christchurch youth.

Long after the Hacky Sack fad receded it remained a popular meeting place for a wide cross section of Christchurch youth who had made the trip into the city from the suburbs.

It was a generally peaceful area, no worse than any other part of the central city. I walked through the amphitheatre on many occasions and was never once harassed or intimidated.

The Christchurch police though claimed that the Hack Circle was 'a breeding ground for crime'. After smearing the reputations of youth who used the area, the police later backpedaled on that claim and admitted that only a handful of kids ever caused any trouble.

Indeed the Hack Circle was a trouble-free zone compared to the alcohol-fuelled mayhem that regularly erupts out from the Oxford Strip of bars on Friday and Saturday nights.

But, as I said in a earlier post on the subject, local business interests and their allies in the Christchurch City Council always disliked the Hack Circle because they simply didn't like poor working class youth hanging around the mall, making it look 'untidy'.

Class snobbery is alive and well although no-one will own up to it.

Eventually the business and political interests got their own way and the Hack Circle was demolished in early 2008.

The Christchurch City Council though is seeking to obliterate all references to the Hack circle and it set up a committee to consider new names for the area. That committee is made up of councillors Bob Todd , Mike Wall, Bob Shearing, Hagley-Ferrymead Community Board member Brenda Lowe-Johnson, the council acting general manager of public affairs Chris Till and Central City Business Association manager Paul Lonsdale.

None of these people will see forty again.

No youth representative was chosen for the panel - which councillor Yani Johanson strongly objected to.

The panel considered a list of 23 names for the former Hack Circle and they were all rejected. These included 'The Philosopher's Circle' and 'The Quadrant'.

According to Lonsdale the suggested names did not 'reflect' the character of the area.

Of course Lonsdale, a supporter of Mayor Sideshow Bob, is the guy who in March this year came up with the bizarre idea of pumping the music of Barry Manilow through the Cashel Mall in order to drive out Christchurch youth from the area.

It was such an absurd idea that it made the international media.

The problem for the councillors and the business suits is that the area is still commonly referred to as the 'Hack Circle' and no-one, except Paul Lonsdale and his chums, regards it as an issue.

When the panel eventually comes up with its business-friendly name it may well be simply ignored anyway.

As one writer to The Press said recently : 'Why does it need a new name? When you consider it was named by the people who used the area not some over-paid idiot in an office then let it stay.'


  1. The CCC is fast become the laughing stock of the country. Second only to the Whanganui council. In some ways this latest fiasco is a good thing. I would be astonished if m,any of BP's mates were still there after the next election.

  2. Yes, but sadly, many of us thought the LAST council was the worst ever, but EVERY councillor who stood for re-election was returned. People who pay attention to our local politics are aware of the incompetence and general sliminess of most of those around the council table. But we are in the minority of those who vote.

    I think the NZ electorate is relatively well-informed and motivated about general elections. But for those who can be bothered to vote at local election time, for most it comes down to what names you recognise. For many, Barry Corbett is still that well-spoken man from the radio, Norm Withers is that poor man whose Mum got bashed, and Bob Parker is that smooth (if somewhat effete) man from the game shows.

  3. Very apt point about the mayhem on the strip at night by comparison.


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